During my freshman year of college at Valparaiso University, I began almost every one of my essays with a famous quote or set of song lyrics that I believed perfectly encapsulated whatever I was about to attempt to convey in my writing. I finally had a professor who called me on it. He pointed out that choosing a lyric or quote that mentioned my paper topic wasn’t the same as direct support for my thesis. More poignantly, he suggested that starting with someone else’s words perhaps wasn’t the best way to convince the reader that I myself had something interesting to say.
And yet, as I sat down to write this first blog post for the Carson Academics website, I found myself Googling quotes to get my brain churning. I knew what I wanted to write about, so topic was no problem. But I guess not much has changed—as long as I’ve been a writer, beginnings have been challenging. What has changed is my self-awareness about why I’m seeking to use someone else’s words when my own will suffice: I stall out (and feel a little scared of where I might end up) unless I feel a strong sense of purpose about how I’ve begun; and in these stalled-out moments, sometimes the words and ideas of others feel sturdier than my own.
I think this stalled-out-before-I’ve-even-started feeling is a common struggle for anyone beginning a new task, whether it’s an adult embarking on a work project or a student learning a new concept. When we don’t know how something is going to turn out, beginnings feel especially important. This is only emphasized all the more in our everyday language when we remind each other about getting off on the right foot or scold one another about getting up on the wrong side of the bed. Apparently, how we begin is crucial to where we end.
Currently, I’m in the midst of a BIG beginning. This is the second time I have gone into business for myself as Carson Academic Consultants, and it feels the same as the first time—scary and exciting and overwhelming and gratifying. However, I’m pleased to report that there is one major difference between the two launches of Carson Academics. This time around, I’m reaching out for help and asking for advice from the many smart, business-minded, creative people who make up my tribe of supporters and encouragers. Eight years ago, “being in business for myself” meant “being in business by myself.” But my solitude was self-inflicted.
Helping students and parents feel less alone is one of the major reasons I’m thrilled to be returning to this business. My college professor’s advice about building solely on my own words and ideas was good for writing, but I’m not sure it transfers to other areas of life. Just as I’m learning from the more experienced business minds around me, getting experienced help with the challenges of high school academics, standardized testing, and college planning is a smart way to navigate those obstacles. I take tremendous pride in facilitating student success and empowering students to find their own sense of purpose, and I believe that I have much to offer my clients.
If you or anyone you know is looking for that sturdy and reliable source of information about high school academics, standardized testing, or college planning, please reach out via this website (see the “Contact” tab), or “Like” my Carson Academic Consultants Facebook page and send me a message that way. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!